Seven years ago, I was sitting at my desk at a full-time office job, daydreaming about finding a more balanced life. A life where I could be more present for school and family activities, participate in volunteer opportunities, explore hobbies and interests while continuing to work in a career that I loved. That daydream became reality when I opened Masterkey Management Ltd. and became a work-at-home-mom (WAHM). Becoming a WAHM is a lifestyle change, and like Dean Martin’s song ‘Wham! Bam! Thank You Ma’am!’, it could leave you quite dissatisfied if your expectations are unrealistic and you do not plan ahead. Here are some tips to ensure that your WAHM experience is satisfying:
1. Carve out your corner – Create a home office space that is YOURS. Keep it organised and keep it beautiful. I opted to convert an alcove near my front door into an office space. It is bathed with natural light and I have a view of the garden. You might be able to carve out space in your living room, kitchen or a spare bedroom. No matter what you choose, a dedicated space will help you keep focused and organised and a beautiful space will keep you inspired and motivated. Photos of loved ones and favourite travel destinations, handwritten notes from inspiring friends, thank you cards from grateful clients and, of course, my children’s artwork make this a place I WANT to be every day.
2. Keep it classy – Dress appropriately for your line of business. Whilst wearing your pyjamas all day is tempting, I find that dressing for work keeps me focused and makes me ready at a moment’s notice to meet with clients and vendors when needed.
3. Create a schedule that’s flexible – Manage your time wisely by planning blocks of time to complete various tasks in a way that suits you. I am a night owl and prefer scheduling administrative tasks later in the evening when the kids are in bed and I avoid booking client appointments mid-afternoons so that I am available for school pickups, extra-curricular drop offs or stops for a smoothie to catch up with my teen.
Schedule in time for your own well-being; a fitness class, massage or a beauty treatment helps you feel good inside and out. As a WAHM being able to stick with your schedule is important, but having a flexible schedule is paramount. Two paragraphs into writing this article, my daughter called me from school to tell me she was feeling ill (no lie!). I am grateful to be a WAHM with a flexible schedule to allow me to attend to her needs without sacrificing the needs of my clients.
4. Set boundaries – Ease into committing yourself to a list of obligations that you cannot keep. In an effort to do it all, you may not be able to do anything! Learn to say ‘no’ if you are unable to help with that fundraiser or run that errand for your friend. Others expect that because you are a WAHM, you are ‘free’ to fulfil the needs of their pet projects. Know your boundaries so that your time is focused on the things that are important to you.
5. Never stop learning – As a WAHM, you should ensure that your business budget includes educational opportunities, whether it is an online course, local seminar or overseas conference. You shouldn’t limit your education to your line of business; expand your knowledge to ancillary skills that will help your business; accounting, marketing and IT skills are valuable in all fields.
6. Mix & Mingle – One of the greatest downsides of being a WAHM is the limited (adult) human interaction. The peace and quiet leads to wonderful productivity in the absence of office banter and water cooler gossip, but humans were created to commune with each other! Make the time to catch up with friends for lunch or discuss new business trends with industry colleagues over tea or coffee. Create a tribe of WAHMs in other industries; they are great sources of inspiration, encouragement and fresh ideas.
7. Go digital – In such a technology driven time, it’s easy to make many of the resources you need accessible through your smartphone. Going digital reduces your use of paper and allows you to work from virtually anywhere so that you are not tied to your desk.
Working from home can be rewarding in many ways, but it’s important to see beyond the daydream. Do your research and take the time to plan before you commit to a new lifestyle so that you are satisfied with the life you have created.